There are many challenges that come with being a parent, many of which you don’t know about until you’re, well, actually a parent. One of those is finding quality child care. Finding a place you can trust to leave your most prized possessions while you work (or do whatever) is not easy.
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Now a startup that is focused on helping parents solve that problem has brought in some fresh capital. In fact, its co-founders, Sara Mauskopf and Anne Halsall, were both pregnant with their respective third child while fundraising.
Winnie, a San Francisco-based marketplace for childcare and early education, has raised $9 million in a Series A round led by Rethink Impact, a female-led firm focused on investing in female-led companies “using tech to solve major global challenges.” Reach Capital, Impact America Fund, Unusual Ventures, Ludlow Ventures, Afore Capital, Day One Ventures, Kairos, and April Underwood, Slack’s former chief product officer, also participated in the financing. With this investment, Winnie has now raised a total of $15.5 million, according to its Crunchbase profile.
Mauskopf, who serves as CEO, and Halsall, who is Winnie’s chief product officer, came up with the idea for the company in 2016 (both were working at Postmates at the time). They were both new-ish parents and started Winnie with an initial focus on providing information and community for parents. But it quickly became apparent to the pair that one of the biggest pain points for users was finding quality local daycares and preschools.
“We realized that this generation of millennial parents was a very different generation from in the past,” said Mauskopf, who has two daughters and another child on the way, via a phone interview this morning. “They’re way more likely to work than previous generations. So, things like child care are no longer optional since the vast majority of families in this country don’t have a stay-at-home parent now.”
Users of Winnie’s app can get access to detailed information related to childcare and early education such as tuition information, licensing status, and parent reviews for each program. Winnie also gives childcare providers a way to reach more parents and fill open spaces. The company earns money by giving providers the chance to advertise, and thus get more exposure, on its app, according to Mauskopf.
As mentioned above, one of parents’ biggest concerns is finding a safe environment for their children. Winnie helps with that by providing the latest licensing information (via “deep data integrations with local licensing authorities”) so moms and dads can know if a provider has any citations or is currently under investigation, Mauskopf said.
Over the past year, Winnie has expanded the number of cities it serves from 500 to 7,000, reaching over 4 million parents across the United States and featuring more than 150,000 daycares or preschools. Mauskopf and Halsall recognize that not everyone can afford at-home nannies so their mission is to help parents of all economic levels find affordable and safe childcare options.
As part of the funding, Rethink Impact founder and managing partner Jenny Abramson, is joining Winnie’s board. In a written statement, she said her firm was impressed with Winnie’s ability to “leverage technology to create more accessible childcare and early education options for children and families nationwide, given the massive childcare crisis in this nation.”
Blog Roll Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
Photo Courtesy of Winnie